On Tuesday, 25 July, the Nuon Solar Team presented its latest solar car, the Nuna9. With a new shape, a smaller solar panel and a "touch of Dutch" on the sides, the new solar car made a strong impression at the Lijm & Cultuur lab in Delft (Netherlands). In October, the students from the Technical University of Delft will travel to Australia with the Nuna9 to defend their world title in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.
The unveiling of the Nuna9 marks a radical departure from past designs that have been seen in the solar car world. The most significant change in terms of aerodynamics is that the Nuna9 is a compact, yet powerful race car without the overhanging nose of previous models.
The organisers of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge amend the rules for each edition of the event. This year, the maximum permitted size of the solar panel is just 4 m2, compared to 6 m2 for the previous year's race.
Jasper Hemmes, the team's aerodynamics specialist, comments: "Our design for the Nuna9 sets a new milestone in solar racing. The amended rules for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge have compelled us to drive using a smaller solar panel this year. That means we had to radically modify our car, and we ultimately arrived at this unique design."
The solar car was shrouded in secrecy for a long time.
Team leader Sander Koot: "The Nuna9 is revolutionary. We have an all-new shape compared to our previous solar cars. We wanted to keep this shape secret for as long as possible to avoid giving away anything to our competitors. In the last few years, the teams have come closer and closer to one another during the race. We are also seeing many ideas adapted from our earlier solar cars. And, of course, we want to take home the world trophy again this year."
This is also a reason why the Delft students are not revealing anything inside the vehicle. "We don't want to give the others any ideas", says Sander with a smile.
As a multiple winner and the reigning world champion, the Nuon Solar Team is the firm favourite for the title in Australia. The race organisers are now challenging teams from all over the world to try to beat the Dutch team, with the motto "Take on the Dutch".
To show its winning mentality, the team opted to decorate its solar car with lion's manes. "The manes communicate a sense of power. Lions with bigger manes are more formidable and stronger. Furthermore, the lion's manes stand for Dutch pride and glory", says team member Sarah Bennink Bolt.
The Nuon Solar Team
The Nuon Solar Team this year consists of sixteen engineering students. In October, the team will defend its world title with the self-made Nuna9 solar car in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Student teams from Delft have won the race six times now, including the last edition in 2015. The course, which is more than 3,000 km in length, crosses Australia from Darwin to Adelaide.